Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Health

Going the distance: Miles for Moffitt helps cancer research move forward

Suzanne Oles wasn't well enough to join the crowd at last year's Miles for Moffitt fundraiser. She was in the middle of chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer.

But, working from the sidelines, she still managed to raise $8,000 for research. This year, she's feeling much better and hopes to raise even more.

"I'm aiming for $15,000. Right now I'm already at $8,000 so I think we will get there," said Oles, a 65-year-old sales rep who lives in Tampa with her husband.

Back in 2005, Oles says she was "living the high life" and preparing to move to Thailand for her job; her husband was already there scouting out a place to live. Then she developed bronchitis that wouldn't go away.

She got a chest X-ray and went to see a specialist, who delivered the bad news. Doctors never said what caused her lung cancer, but Oles was a longtime pack-a-day smoker. (According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but about 20 percent of cases are not related to smoking.)

Oles had surgery on her right lung and immediately quit smoking. "I learned my lesson and quit," she said, "but I watched guys with lung cancer during chemo go outside and smoke. I couldn't believe it. I never had another cigarette."

She was cancer-free for more than nine years. Then in 2014 it came back, this time in her left lung. She had chemotherapy and radiation and still needs bottled oxygen to help her breathe, a side effect of the radiation treatment. She has been cancer-free for the past six months and will have quarterly checkups for the next two years.

"For my particular type of cancer, the only hope is in research," she said, noting that funding for lung cancer research is low compared to funding for other types of cancer. "Research is the only way we're going to beat this disease in general."

Since 2006, Miles for Moffitt has attracted thousands of participants who share the same goal: find ways to prevent and cure cancer. Last year, 6,500 people signed up to walk, run and roll the many different routes available, including an online race. In 2015, the event raised more than $650,000, which will advance research and fund novel new projects.

All the money stays at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Applications are reviewed by a panel of Moffitt experts, and grants are awarded competitively to the most promising proposals.

Dr. Anna Giuliano has had two studies funded by Miles for Moffitt, including one under way now to find out whether the HPV vaccine — the one given to adolescents and young adults to prevent sexually transmitted cancers — can prevent HPV-related cancers of the head and neck in middle-aged men.

"Sometimes we can combine this money with funding from other sources and do even more," said Giuliano, a cancer epidemiologist at Moffitt. "But every dollar that comes in is so critical to moving our research mission forward. The more people who sign up for this event, the better."

According to race coordinator Sonia Cerundolo, Miles for Moffitt has brought in more than $3 million over the years, enough to fund 37 research projects. Grants are awarded in the year after the money is raised, so last year's donations will be awarded in May of this year. This year's donations will be awarded in 2017.

Oles looks forward to walking with her team of donors this year and plans to thank all of them at a brunch she's hosting after the race. She asks family members, friends, work colleagues and neighbors to donate and participate.

If anyone wants to give her a gift for a birthday or a holiday, she asks them to make a donation to her Miles for Moffitt fund. She likes knowing every dollar raised stays at Moffitt and funds local researchers. It's research that may one day help her or someone else.

Oles lost her 92-year-old mother to ovarian cancer a few weeks ago. "Cancer touches everybody," she said.

Contact Irene Maher at [email protected]

Comments
A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

While fighting back tears, young Keaton Jones couldn’t stop asking one question: Why?"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it?" he asks his mother while in the passenger seat of a parked car. "Why do you find joy in taking in...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Legalization of marijuana for adults poses problems for people dealing with teens

Legalization of marijuana for adults poses problems for people dealing with teens

WESTMINSTER, Calif. — After Yarly Raygoza attended the drug prevention program at the Boys & Girls Club here last year, she used what she learned to talk a few friends out of using marijuana.The 14-year-old took the class again this year but worries ...
Published: 12/10/17
Millions gained coverage since Obamacare, but many are worse off as premiums soar

Millions gained coverage since Obamacare, but many are worse off as premiums soar

As open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage nears the deadline of Dec. 15, and Florida once again leads all states using the federal exchange at healthcare.gov, Heidi and Richard Reiter sit at the kitchen table at their Davie home and struggl...
Published: 12/10/17
A gift of hands: After loss, a man finds hope from healing ones (w/video)

A gift of hands: After loss, a man finds hope from healing ones (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — Francisco Piedra fixed his eyes on the man sitting beside him. His name was Richard Brown, and in his hands he held Piedra’s new ones.The prosthetics were black and plastic. Each one took about 20 hours to build from a 3D printer. Pi...
Published: 12/08/17
The solar eclipse burned a crescent wound on a woman’s retina. She wasn’t wearing proper glasses.

The solar eclipse burned a crescent wound on a woman’s retina. She wasn’t wearing proper glasses.

Like so many others, 26-year-old Nia Payne wanted to view of August’s historic solar eclipse but didn’t have a pair of protective glasses. She walked outside on Staten Island and glanced at the sun - 70 percent was covered - for about six seconds bef...
Published: 12/08/17
At St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, death of a colleague inspires ‘hats with heart’

At St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, death of a colleague inspires ‘hats with heart’

TAMPA — Brittany Weatherby didn’t know how to crochet when she started her job as a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, and she never dreamed of learning how.Maybe her grandma used to, she tried to remember, but Weatherby never really ...
Published: 12/08/17
How kids’ books can introduce a lifetime of fitness

How kids’ books can introduce a lifetime of fitness

When I became a parent last year, it seemed likely my marathon running days were behind me.Running had made me a grittier person. It had given me the very specific self-assurance that comes from calmly enduring 26 miles on foot, a quality that would ...
Published: 12/08/17

Mayo Clinic Q&A: seek attention for mole that bleeds; a look at lung restoration

DON’T WAIT: BLEEDING MOLE SHOULD BE EVALUATED BY A DOCTOR Should I see a health care provider for a mole that bleeds occasionally?Yes. Although it may not be serious, a mole that bleeds is a possible sign of melanoma, a rare but serious skin cancer t...
Published: 12/08/17
Lightened Shepherd’s Pie comforting, quick

Lightened Shepherd’s Pie comforting, quick

When the weather gets cooler, we want to tuck into comfort food in our home. Doing a recipe makeover on a tasty-but-less-than-healthy dish is one of my favorite challenges. Today, I’m taking on a wintertime classic with my Lightened Shepherd’s Pie. T...
Published: 12/08/17
Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

By MELISSA D’ARABIANSummer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring. The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And, th...
Published: 12/08/17